Big Brother’s most controversial moments over the years

Across its nearly 20-year run in the UK, Big Brother had a host of controversial moments which gripped the nation and made headlines.

Following a five-year hiatus after Channel 5 axed the show in 2018 amid a ratings slump, the influential reality series has been rebooted by ITV.

Before its return to screens on Sunday, here is a look at some of its biggest controversies:

– The Shilpa Shetty race row

Shilpa Shetty
Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty received abuse from other contestants (Yui Mok/PA)

It saw the late Jade Goody, S Club 7 singer Jo O’Meara and model Danielle Lloyd directing abuse at Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty.

Complaints from viewers soared to 45,000 over behaviour that included Goody referring to the star as “Shilpa Poppadom”, Lloyd telling Shetty, in foul language, that she should go home to India, and an argument over Shetty cooking a chicken in which offensive comments about Indian cooking were made.

Shetty went on to win Celebrity Big Brother that year as Ofcom ruled against Channel 4 and the broadcaster apologised on air.

– Christopher Biggins removed for causing ‘widespread offence’

Christopher Biggins
Christopher Biggins entering the Celebrity Big Brother house (Ian West/PA)

He also reportedly made remarks about bisexual people being responsible for the spreading of Aids.

But while many viewers fought his corner, Celebrity Big Brother commented: “Since entering Big Brother, he has made a number of comments capable of causing great offence to housemates and the viewing public.

“Big Brother does not tolerate offensive language capable of causing widespread offence.”

– Jeremy Jackson removal

Jeremy Jackson
Jeremy Jackson being interviewed by host Emma Willis in 2015 (Ian West/PA)

A concerned Goodman had followed him to the toilets where he went to be sick, but emerged in tears shortly afterwards.

Just days later, comedian and actor Ken Morley was also ejected over repeated sexist and racist comments.

David Gest
David Gest arrives at the start of Celebrity Big Brother 2016 (Ian West/PA)

More than 200 people complained in 2016 after Channel 5 aired scenes where Tiffany Pollard mistakenly thought fellow contestant David Gest had died.

The US reality star became hysterical when model and actress Angie Bowie confided in her that “David’s dead”, referring to the death of her former husband David Bowie from cancer outside the house.

It led to a hysterical Pollard telling her stunned housemates but they were later confused when they checked on Gest and realised he was alive.

Gest died three months later, and Pollard was forced to pull ‘David Is Dead’ slogan T-shirts from her website.

– George Galloway’s cat impression

George Galloway
Former MP George Galloway’s political opponents called him a ‘laughing stock’ (Yui Mok/PA)

As part of a task Galloway imitated a cat by crawling on all fours, purring and pretending to lick cream from the hands of actress Rula Lenska.

His political opponents branded him a “laughing stock”.

Kim Woodburn
Kim Woodburn called her housemates ‘chinless wonders’ in 2017 (Ian West/PA)

Television presenter Kim Woodburn was removed from the Celebrity Big Brother house by security after an explosive argument with several housemates.

Woodburn, one half of cleaning team Kim and Aggie, was escorted away by the show’s security guards after rowing with former professional footballer Jamie O’Hara and glamour model Nicola McLean.

As she was removed, the How Clean Is Your House? presenter called O’Hara an “adulterer” and fellow housemates “chinless wonders”.

– Courtney Act’s wardrobe malfunction

Courtney Act
Shane Jenek enters the Big Brother house as Courtney Act (Ian West/PA)

– Roxanne Pallett accuses Ryan Thomas of hurting her

Roxanne Pallett
Roxanne Pallett entering the Celebrity Big Brother house (Ian West/PA)

After walking out of the Channel 5 show, former Emmerdale actress Pallett apologised and said she had made “a massive, horrible mistake”, saying she feared she was “the most hated girl in Britain”.

Media watchdog Ofcom received more than 11,000 complaints about Pallett’s behaviour.

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